Mark Potter nets 200th career victory


When Mark Potter chose to return to his alma mater and revive a men’s basketball program that had been dormant 11 years, he knew it would be a challenge. Little did he know the challenge would include a battle against depression and a leap from NAIA competition to NCAA Division II. Despite such roadblocks, Potter recently celebrated his 200th career win at Newman.

Potter began Newman’s basketball revival in 1997-98 and enjoyed perhaps his most successful season the very next year. Newman went undefeated in conference play, won 29 games overall, and ended up with a No. 13 national ranking. That action brought Potter the MCAC Coach of the Year, Kansas Four-Year College Coach of the Year, and the Wichita Sports Commission Coach of the Year awards.

The Jets won 23 or more games a season five times under Potter before beginning the long and difficult transition to NCAA Division II competition. While the transition was tough enough, Potter found himself facing a new challenge – depression, which grabbed hold of the coach in fall 2006 and wouldn’t let go. Potter took some time away from the team he had built and the game he loved, but soon returned with a new resolve toward basketball, and toward making a difference off the court.

In addition to building a Heartland Conference title challenging team, Potter now tries to help others who suffer from depression by speaking frequently on the topic. His words seem to carry extra weight, as they come from someone in a profession where admitting what some would consider a weakness is almost unheard of.

Considering Potter built the Newman basketball program from scratch, then had to rebuild it for NCAA D-II, and then had to essentially rebuild himself, his 200th victory was especially gratifying. Given that he overcame these challenges with passion, tenacity, reinvention and, perhaps most of all, faith, there’s also little doubt about his ability to achieve his next 200.

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